Saturday, December 27, 2008

Recent Blog Posts Elsewhere...

Some recent blog posts I've written:

Christmas in Redhouse

Redhouse, Md. – I’m here at my father-in-law’s house in Garrett County, Maryland. It is unseasonably warm today – 65F at the moment, which is more common for May or June.

We did a little shopping yesterday in Oakland, Md. Not exactly a big city. We started at the Dollar General where we picked up some half-price Christmas cards for next year. Then we headed on over to Wal-Mart for a few groceries and some wrapping paper that was on sale. We stopped in the down town area at a little jewelry store and Cheryl’s dad ordered a 50th anniversary gift for his brother. And we finished off our trip at a second grocery store where I bought a couple of pieces of chicken (and two turkey drum sticks) that we’re going to shake and bake tonight for dinner.

Last night we had the family’s traditional Christmas dinner. Those present: Cheryl’s dad (Benny), brother Steve and his wife, Janet, along with their three daughters (Emily, Sarah, and Jennifer), complete with Sarah’s boyfriend Spencer and Jennifer’s boyfriend Brody; and sister Nancy, with her husband, Mitch, and their daughter Holly (who spends a week with us each summer). So that 13 people. We had pork loin, mashed potatoes, broccoli casserole, yeast roles, apple sauce, green beans, corn, cheese, deer sausage, a pumpkin roll, fudge, and some cheese cake.

Most of my time during the days has been spent blogging through a dial-up connection. We played Phase 10 last night for a couple of hours. Tonight we’re discussing a trip to the high school to watch a girl’s basketball tournament.

Cheryl and I drive home tomorrow…

Sunday, December 21, 2008

Things I Did Today...

Wrapped Christmas presents (between midnight and 1am last night).

Watched West Wing while I wrapped presents. (I own all seven seasons on DVD.)


Got up at 7:30 to turn the heat back up. Went back to bed.

Got up at 8:30 and made coffee. Put the dog out.

Cooked breakfast. Scrambled eggs with chorizo sausage and cheddar cheese, grits, and a biscuit with butter and honey. Biscuits and sausage gravy fro Cheryl. We also sliced up a store-bought tomato.

Read my email and my Google Reader.

Got dressed for church. Wore my Blue suit.

Some time online. Facebook (I friended my cousin Lee), tetras, news.

Went to Church. The Pastor preached a good message on the Old Testament prophesies that Jesus fulfilled.

Went to town: CVS and Food Lion.

Ate at Big Daddy's restaurant. usually I cook Sunday dinner, but Big Daddy's is closing for the rest of the year, so we thoguht we'd go see them...

Watched a little football: Titans and Steelers.

Took a nap.

Drank some coffee and read my Google Reader.

Got some boxes ready to mail.

Took the battery out of the riding lawnmower.

Lit the propane heater in the basement (it's supposed to be near zero tonight).

Spent a little more time in Facebook.

Cleaned up the kitchen.

And now... having a glass of Burgundy while I watch the second have of SNF.

Saturday, December 13, 2008

Recent Blog Posts Elsewhere...

Some recent blog posts I've written...

Tuesday, December 9, 2008

Obama: the High Standard He Must Meet...

President-elect Barack Obama faces an incredible task when he assumes office. That task is to live up to the gold standard of presidential behavior and character so clearly and deeply etched into the public mind by example before most of us had ever heard of Obama.

The example I speak of is not Bill Clinton. I think we can all agree that regardless of the effectiveness of his policies or his legacy in leaving America with an actual budget surplus, President Clinton's personal integrity and demeanor did not set a gold standard for the Presidency.

Nor am I referring to the 35th President, John F. Kennedy, or even to the 16th President, Abraham Lincoln (from whom President-elect Obama seems to draw some of his inspiration).

No, the example I speak of is both clearer and more recent. I speak of President Josiah Bartlet, the liberal icon and slave to principal and integrity who served as President through seven season of the NBC television series West Wing.

You think I jest... Perhaps you even mock me.

I was a faithful fan of West Wing. I own all seven season on DVD. For four years I went around telling people that Bartlet was the only President I knew for sure we had. After all, George W. Bush was elected to office by the Supreme Court by a vote of 7-2 on December 12, 2000.

Played by Martin Sheen, President Bartlet was the epitome of so many good things. He represented a world in which education was valued, not viewed as snobbish or elitist. President Bartlet clung to actual principles. I'd like to think there are still leaders in the world who seek political office for reasons that don't primarily involve self-interest. Call me naïve; I'd like to trust my President and I'd like to resist the trend toward cynicism. I don't want to believe that the only way to make it to the top in politics is to be crooked. I'd prefer to think that God still sometimes anointed leaders for us who act in good faith.

Can Obama stand in the shadow of Jed Bartlet? Will he lead with integrity? Will he carry Bartlet's burden for the poor? Can he marry principle to pragmatism? Can he be the commander-in-chief that Bartlet was?

I think it is ironic that one of the minor themes of the West Wing revolved around President Bartlet's humanity, his frailties. The West Wing's President struggled with smoking. Will Barack Obama ever light one up in the National Cathedral and put it out in God's face the way that Bartlet is presented as doing in the Two Cathedrals episode...?

Okay, I know it was fiction. But art imitates life, and vice versa. For now, my hope is that Barack Obama will fill Jed Bartlet's shoes. Perhaps later I'll lower my expectations and hope simply that he can fill the shoes of President Kennedy...

Saturday, November 22, 2008

Blogging: the Year so Far...

This is my 300th post here at this blog. I thought that made it a good time to reflect on my blogging habits.

In the 327 days since January 1st I have written 644 blog posts:That's just shy of two blog posts per day as an average.

And I almost forgot my 200 updates on Twitter...

Friday, November 21, 2008

Two Snow Days in One Week - BEFORE Thanksgiving

The news is saying it's been awhile. Okay, a couple of decades. Two snow days in one week, before Thanksgiving...

We had Monday off this week. Then there was snow today. The school system builds in six snow days. We'll see if this is a predictor of things to come. The weather man says we could have snow on Tuesday. That might mean half our snow days are gone before Thanksgiving.

Private School for Obama Kids Just Doesn't Bother Me

Conservative commentators are making hay out of the fact that Barack and Michelle will be sending their daughters to a private school. How can the liberal savior of the common man not be a hypocrite if he sends his kids to private school? That's the Conservative whine.

I'm a public school teacher in one of America's poorest counties. I suspect that the First Family provides unique considerations when it comes to education the children. it really doesn't bother me to see the First Kids go to a private school.

It will bother me even less if Bill Richardson ends up in the education chair at cabinet meetings...

Sunday, November 9, 2008

Wednesday, November 5, 2008

Tired (The Day After...)

I went to bed early Monday night. I'm not really a morning person. The idea of getting up at 4am so I could be at a polling place at 5am didn't really add to the excitement of Election Day...

Monday evening I picked up the voting machines for my polling place. As polling chief for my precinct it was my responsibility to getting them to the voting site. I left them in my Explorer overnight to avoid loading and unloading the car in the dark. But I worried about being on CNN if my vehicle got broken into over night and I woke up and checked on it twice that night.

I've worked at my precinct a couple of times now. I've never seen this kind of turnout before. A little over 80% of our registered voters turned out. In my county, 33% of the votes went to Obama, 65% to McCain. IN my precinct it was a little better - 37% Obama to 61% McCain. (Remember there were several independents on the ballot.)

The US Senate race was about the opposite. Just over 57% of the votes from Tazewell County in that race when to Mark Warner. Gilmore pulled just over 41%. Warner pulled almost 66% of the vote in my precinct.

When the day was over I drove my voting machines back to the county courthouse. I listened on the radio as NPR called Pennsylvania for Obama. I knew enough to know that just that probably meant Obama had won the election.

On my way home I stopped in town at the Obama Campaign Headquarters. I wanted to see what it felt like there, to breathe the air. It was a room mostly full of tired people anxious about the results in Virginia, where McCain was leading at the time. I spent ten minutes, maybe, and went home.

I wasn’t supposed to eat or drink anything but water after 8pm in preparation for a blood test today. I drank tap water from a champagne flute with golden filigree on the lip while I watched the news.

Today I took a day off work and I went to see my doctor. Routine stuff I've been putting off. My good cholesterol is up three points (and is among the highest he's ever seen, which he says is good). Today or tomorrow his office will call and tell me the results of my liver enzyme test. I take a medicine that can stress my liver, and I've been on it a long time. My bad cholesterol is down a point. My triglycerides are 41, and I'm suppose to keep them below 50.

I left his office and when to Big Daddy's restaurant for a late breakfast: scrambled eggs, buttered toast, fried potatoes, and country ham.

Update: My doctor called and said my liver is fine...

Saturday, November 1, 2008

Dailing Phones...

I spent a little time in town today at the Obama Campaign's office in Tazewell. I made phone calls for about an hour. Most were to people in the county's Northern District, where I live.

I must admit that my mostive was somewhat selfish. I wanted the experience, wanted to be able to say I contributed (at least a little).

I called 30 or so phone numbers. The list I worked from was supposed to be undecided voters. No one was undecided. I got one or two disconnected numbers, 10 or 12 calls where no one answered and I maybe got to talk to an answering machine, a few strong Obama supporters, and few Democrats who said they were going ot vote for Obama because, well, after all they were Democrats. And I spoke to one nice lady who supports McCain and said she'd pray for my soul... Oh,well

After my 45 or 50 minutes I handed the phone to someone else and went about my business in town, which mostly involved buying groceries...

New Blogging Portfolio

For almost 18 months now I've been blogging for Creative Weblogging. CW has about 150 blogs on professional niche topics in English, Chinese, German, and French. But the economic crisis (can I say "recession") has hit ad revenues pretty hard and CW recently restructured it's arrangements with bloggers. For me the result has be a broader portfolio of blogs that I contribute to...

meWhen I started with CW in May of 2007 I was writing about China, specifically about venture capital and private equity investment in China. The site is China Venture News, and I still blog there - though only once or twice a week now. A little over a year ago I picked up a second blog at CW: the Universities Weblog. I still blog there, as well.

In the last couple of weeks I've picked up a handful of other blogs at CW and I contribute to them about once a week. Three of them are on CW's Ecommerce and internet channel:Four more are on CW's Travel & Culture channel:Of course I also still have this blog - my personal blog. I have Twitter (a microblog - kind of a cross between blogging and instant messaging). And I have my education blog, The Green Cup (which I have neglected woefully in the last few weeks in favor of graduate classes and politics. And there's always my Facebook and MySpace pages...

Monday, October 27, 2008

The "S" Word...

It has been snowing off and on all day long. That is to say that periodically throughout the day it has spit snow. Nothing on the ground, mind you. Just a few flakes in the air. Still, October is a little early...

Saturday, October 25, 2008

Defining Moment: Obama's New Two Minute Ad

Got My Flu Shot (Another Thing PEIA Won't Pay For)

My wife and I traveled to Bluefield this morning and got our flu shots at a pharmacy there. The pharmacy was in a grocery store, so I wandered back to browse the meat section. Some students from Virginia Tech were giving a survey about pasture-fed beef. It took about 10 minutes and they gave me a $10 gift card for taking the survey. The card was useful considering the shot wasn't covered this year under WV PEIA (Public Employees Insurance association). I can't believe my insurance won't pay for a flu shot for teachers...

Macy Gets a Haircut

Our dog, Macy is about two years old. Part terrier, part shih tzu. Here are some "before and after" pics of today's trip to get a haircut...

Friday, October 24, 2008

SW VA in the Huffington Post

The Huffington Post had an intersting piece today on the Obama campaign in Southwest Virginia. The article os written by VT Prof Joan Kark and features material on Congressman Boucher, as well as on the Obama campaign.

Wednesday, October 22, 2008

Wrestling with Patriotism

Patriotism - (noun) Love of country and willingness to sacrifice for it; devotion to the welfare of one's country; devotion to a community as opposed to devotion to one's individual interests.

Nationalism - (noun) Having pride in one's country; a collective state of mind or consciousness in which people believe their primary duty and loyalty is to the nation-state.

"The abiding purpose of every nationalist is to secure more power and more prestige, not for himself but for the nation or other unit in which he has chosen to sink his own individuality." - George Orwell.
It's been fascinating to listen to the various concepts of patriotism put forth in this election. It has helped me clarify for myself my own feelings and thoughts on the subject.

I'm a Christian. Philippians 3:20 - "Our citizenship is in heaven." (ASV). As the son of an U.S. Army officer, as someone who spent three years in high school ROTC, I've struggled with what that verse means to me. I balance it with Romans 13:1 - "Everyone must submit himself to the governing authorities."

I love my country. I'd sacrifice for its welfare. And when I say that I love my country, I have something to compare it to. I've lived in Germany, Australia, Malaysia, and Singapore. I've visited a few dozen countries. America, even at its worst, is a pretty nice place. I like it.

Patriotism is often confused with another -ism we don't mention much in America: nationalism. Nationalism is at least partly an ethnic concept. People submerge their identity into some larger community ideal. Patriotism doesn't require that kind of death of self.

It's been a while, but I've read The Light and the Glory. I remember thinking it was a crock. I can't tell you exactly why now. Because it's been a while. But I don't see America as God's newly chosen instrument or people. It's a nice place and I love it. I leave it there.

Not all of my friends have always been Americans. I've had friends who were Singaporeans and South Africans, Filipinos and Australians, New Zealanders and South Koreans, Samoans and Brazilians. I didn't figure it was their fault. I never thought they were somehow inferior to me. That would go beyond even my usual arrogance.

Patriotism is not a military concept. It doesn't go away when there are no wars to fight. Your credentials as a patriot are not somehow damaged by inability (or even refusal) to serve in the military. Patriotism is more basic. It is love of country - plain and simple.

I've lived and worked in places nationalism was common. I recognize it. It makes me uncomfortable. I'm a patriot. But I'm not a nationalist. And you don't have to be one to love America...

Sunday, October 19, 2008

The Leaves at Lake Witten

I stopped at Lake Witten on my way to town today and took these photos of the changing leaves. Peak color is past by a day or two, I think. The hard frost this morning will speed autumn along...

Saturday, October 18, 2008

Cheese and Crackers in the Real Virginia

I'm sitting here listening to football and eating cheese and crackers in the real Virginia. I have a bumper sticker on my car that says "Obama." there are two signs in my yard: one for Obama and one for Mark Warner's Senate run. Not everyone here is for Obama, but my hope is that he'll carry our county...

The Associated Press carried a story today about McCain's hopes in Virginia.
A top aide to John McCain said Saturday the Republican presidential nominee still has a strong chance of winning the state because of his support in "Real Virginia," the downstate areas far removed in distance and political philosophy from the more liberal northern part of the state.
Daily Kos showed the new US map that the McCain camp is evidently using. (I hope they don't sue me for using it.)

They also had a YouTube video of McCain spokesperson Nancy Pfotenhauer saying stupid things on MSNBC...

We're more "Southern" out here, according to Pfotenhauer. And somehow that's good for McCain? Not sure if that's racist, or what. I don't think she has a particularly profound grasp of the state's geography.

In the meantime, LSU and South Carolina are tide, Texas is putting a whippin' on Missouri, the Hokies are trying to catch up with Boston College, and I need more crackers...

Thursday, October 16, 2008

Joe the (Jackass) Plumber...

Joe the Plumber became a celebrity, a public figure of sorts, Wednesday night during the presidential debate when GOP candidate John McCain referred to him twenty times or more. NBC declared Joe the plumber to be the winner of the debate.

Some background is in order...

Barack Obama and Joe Wurzelbacher (his name is Samuel J. Wurzelbacher) talked on at an event in Ohio a few days ago. Watch the Youtube video for the conversation.

So, here's what I've seen on Joe today...You're welcome to wade through it yourself, but...

Joe owes back taxes in Ohio - about $1,200. Joe used to live in Alaska and has relatives who know Sarah Palin's husband, Todd. Joe is also related to one of the convicted felons from the Keating five savings and loans scandal that McCain was connected to. Joe's family contributes mightily to the GOP in Ohio. Joe's last name is misspelled on Ohio's vote registration roll and that would be enough to disqualify him from voting in some states; but he is registered to vote. Joe doesn't make anywhere near $250,000 a year (his 2006 divorce settlement say he makes $40K) and can't possibly afford to come up with the million or so dollars it would take to buy the company he talked to Obama about in the video.

Joe the Plumber is making stuff up in the video. McCain is either stupid for using him in the debate or doesn't know he was planted by his own campaign at that Ohio event just to make a good YouTube video...

Tuesday, October 14, 2008

ACLU Membership

My membership card for the ACLU came today. I guess that makes me an official liberal...

Saturday, October 11, 2008

Sarah Palin Notes... (Things I don't have time to write about.)

i have better things to do than write about GOP Vice-Presidential Candidate Sarah Palin. But there's so much out there! here's a taste of it...Enjoy...

Thursday, October 9, 2008

The Leaves Are Changing...

Saturday, October 4, 2008

Black Bears on the Way to Work

I drive over a couple of mountains to get to work. And with one in particular I'm driving through the middle of a strip mine with I get to the top. That particular mountain is called Gary 14 (which is also the name of the mine). The road throguh the middle of it connects Horsepen, Va., with Skygusty, WV.

I topped 14 Thursday morning and started down the other side. I saw two bear cubs in a twisty part of the road. One had made it across, the other stopped on the downhill side. I stopped. The downhill cub raised up and looked into my passenger window. I was thinking about where my camera was and then I saw mom about 20 yards on up the hill. And I decided that I was in a good spot to get run over by a coal truck, so I went on without a picture...

Sunday, September 28, 2008

Abortion and The Jill Stanek Lie

I suspect that few people would disagree with me if I said that abortion was the most emotional issue in American politics...

I'm a Democrat. I disagree with my party on abortion. I don't really think there is a constitutional right to the choice of abortion. Oh, sure, I understand Roe v. Wade, and that the U.S. Supreme Court has ruled that there is a constitutional right to an abortion. But the Supreme Court has changed its mind before. On the other hand, I disagree with the Republican position that abortion is always (each and every time) just plain wrong because, well, the Bible says so. I own a Bible. I have some training in how to read it (and interpret it). I even like it. And it just doesn't say that - at least not as clearly as the Christian Right in America would have us believe.

You'll notice I used "Christian" there as an adjective, not a noun. I know that most of the people who believe in James Dobson have stopped reading by now. (They probably stopped reading at "I'm a Democrat.") In America, a group of political conservatives have tried very hard to take over Christianity (or at least the Church) and milk it for political ends. Let's face it: Republicans generally worship money. The blend of the Republican Party and the Religious Right reminds me very much of the Pharisees in the New Testament - politically conservative, very religious, and preoccupied with money.

Jill Stanek has a video. She lies in it. It's quite a moving video - which is to say that the people using her make good videos. You can find it on YouTube (I won't post it here). It's about Barack Obama and his time in the Illinois state legislature and, well, abortion. A colleague that I respect a lot sent me a link to it in an email. The video is five and a half minutes long. The last full minute is of a baby supposedly dying. The sensationalism is incredible.

I've called Stanek a liar. I'm sure she experienced something horrific. I'm sure her emotions are being used by others. But her video talks about a proposed law in Illinois, and here's her lie: "At the end of the day, his (Obama's) opposition (to this proposed bill) was responsible for living babies being left out to die." The problem is that the proposed law duplicate one already on the books. The law Stanek is talking about would have made something illegal that was already illegal.

I watched the video. And I replied to my colleague. Here's my reply...

Dramatic. You'd almost think they really left that baby there to die in the video...

Here's the Obama response,

The Republican who sponsored the bill Jill Stanek is talking about in the Illinois state legislature has said in the Chicago Tribune that Jill Stanek's statements in the video are misleading. In his own words, "None of those who voted against SB-1082 favored infanticide." He also points out that the bill later passed with minor rewording - something Jill Stanek's (video leaves out). She also leaves out the fact that a law that covered the issue was already on the books in Illinois. Funny how people can stretch the truth to make it look like God is on their side...,0,3918744.story

Abortion is a horrible thing. I worked for a year as a counselor for an anti-abortion group, Birthright, in Augusta, Ga., in college. I don't mind saying in Democratic Party meetings (which I attend) that we need fewer abortions, that abortions need to be harder to get, and that there needs to be more obvious alternatives supported by state and local government. I don't know that I think abortion should ALWAYS be prohibited. But I'd be quite happy to make abortion far less convenient.

While I think that abortion is a horrible thing, I think there are a lot of horrible things out there. The James Dobsons of the world want me to think that abortion is a crystal clear Biblical issue. And yet the word isn't in the Bible. Abortion was around. Historical records document it in about Egypt in 1550 BC. Hippocrates (died 370 BC) discussed abortion and forbad general practice doctors form being involved in it (or in any other form of surgery).

Exodus 21:22-23 is an interesting passage. If two men fight and they injure a woman in the process and she loses her baby, they owe a fine. For centuries that's been the interpretation of that passage by Christian scholars and in the Jewish lit. The passages in the Bible that get used to support the idea of humanity beginning at conception are all poetic. I have enough Bible training to know that using them as the foundation of a theological position is bad exegesis. In most of the Old Testament, humanity begins with breath or blood, not conception.

I don't mind saying that abortion is a horrible thing. But the effort of the political right to put it in a religious context and make absolute statements about it is an assault on the general public's right to read God's Word for themselves. Like many issues in the Bible, there's no definitive statement. The ministers of politics who want to say that there is such a definitive statement - they're selling something...

And Jill Stanek appears to be a liar who makes good videos.

Abortion is a horrible thing. If we hadn't turned it into a religious litmus test, the church might be more interested in poverty (which is DEFINITELY a Biblical issue)...


Saturday, September 27, 2008

John McCain: The Health of a President

I find it hard to believe, but the GOP candidate for President won't release his own medical records. In Appalachia we call that "a pig in a poke."

Thursday, September 25, 2008

Barack Obama's Tazewell Campaign Office Opens

The Obama Campaign opened an office in Tazewell County today and a fairly large crowd showed up for the event. I went, even though I was a little under the weather.

A couple of pictures of the event...

Opening Obama's Tazewell Campaign Office - Sept. 25, 2008

Va. State Senator William Puckett speaks to the crowd at the opening of Obama's Tazewell Campaign Office - Sept. 25, 2008

Va. State Delegate Dan Bowling speaks to the crowd at the opening of Obama's Tazewell Campaign Office - Sept. 25, 2008

County campaign coordinator, MarileeI met the campaign's Tazewell coordinator, Marilee, and realized after I left that I didn't get her last name or contact info. I'll post that later.

Several of the county's constitutional officers attended the event - Commonwealth Attorney Dennis Lee, Clerk of Court Buddy Blevins, and Sheriff H.S. Caudill.

Tazewell Democratic Party Chairman David Larimer was also there.

Puckett and Bowling both promoted party unity. Bowling supported Hillary in the primaries but was clearly excited about the Obama-Biden ticket. Puckett talked about the need to focus on the stark contrast between Obama and McCain.

Wednesday, September 24, 2008

John McCain and the First Debate

I heard on my way home from work today that GOP presidential candidate John McCain wanted to postpone tomorrow night's debate so he could go to Washington and work on the economic bail out package. I laughed.

"Of course McCain wants to postpone the debate. It fits in so well with his strategy of distraction!"

Suspend the campaign? What a laugh...!McCain's goal has been to tell distracting enough lies so that people will talk about the lies he tells instead of the issues. Sure, the economy is an issue. But taking a time out from campaigning just gets people taking about the time out he took, not the economy.

The cynicism is incredible. Of all Senators, John McCain has been absent from the Senate the most. There have been 643 votes taken in the current Senate session: McCain has missed 412 of them. Since March, he has missed 109 of the last 110 votes. Now, on the eve of a debate, he wants to go be a senator?

I loved Senator Obama's response: the next President will have to deal with more than this one issue.

David Letterman's response (quoted in the Drudge Report) was also entertaining:
"You don't suspend your campaign. This doesn't smell right. This isn't the way a tested hero behaves." And he joked: "I think someone's putting something in his metamucil."

"He can't run the campaign because the economy is cratering? Fine, put in your second string quarterback, Sara Palin. Where is she?"

"What are you going to do if you're elected and things get tough? Suspend being president? We've got a guy like that now!"
I know John McCain is a war hero. War hero's can be cynics, too. And he seems to think that discretion is the better part of valor at the moment...

Tuesday, September 23, 2008

Certification Update

I received word yesterday that I have passed the tests in Georgia for middle grades language arts (4-8) and high school English (6-12). I figure I'll get the new Georgia license in a week or so and transfer those certs to my WV license by Thanksgiving...

Thursday, September 18, 2008

Reflecting on Kids...

I attended a meeting tonight and a small child that can't be more that two decided I had an inviting lap. I know her grandparents, but I'd never seen her before. She decided to perch herself in my lap and laugh and giggle for a while. It's been a long time since I held a child that young. Usually small children are a little skeptical of people they don't know. But this child comes from a very loving family and I guess her sense of security was pretty strong. She made me her new friend and spent a good ten minutes with me. It made me think of my own daughters at that age...

I have the good fortune this year to spend a little time each day with every grade at my school. I spend 45 minutes each day with kindergarten through fifth grade. And I see the preK kids at lunch and at bus duty. In just a few short weeks it's given me a real sense of how kids develop.

I told my wife yesterday that I'd decided that second grade was a turning point. Most kids at that point emerge from some sort of fog or haze that seems to me to have a lot to do with their ability to articulate ideas and the depth of their perception of the world. I enjoy my time in second grade reading block a lot.

At the moment kindergarten and first grade are both working on writing. But for kindergarten that's a motor skills and memory activity. But the first graders are having to think of words to put in blanks in their sentences: He see a _______. In some cases they're being required to create whole sentences on their own. And you can see the wheels turn as they think...

By fifth grade they're almost like little adults - with some depth of knowledge, the ability to really reason with you, a much firmer grip on behavioral issues, etc. The irony is that a week or to after finishing fifth grade, hormones (and the emotions that come with them) will make them almost unhuman.

Wednesday, September 17, 2008

Five Things I Wish I had Time to Write About...

A few links to articles I wish I had time to comment on...

It's Official: We're Worse Off Than Before Bush Took Office...

Mother Jones pointed out today that the stock market has now fallen below where it was when Bush took office almsot eight years ago.

Remind em again... Which party is good for business? I've been told a lot that investing in the stock market is a sure thing over time. But a lot of people's retirement accounts are pretty bad off at the moment.

Tuesday, September 16, 2008

Congress Threatening Second Life (and Other Games)? Not for Now...

Someone I follow on Twitter pointed out that a Congressional committee was voting the Unlawful Internet Gambling Enforcement Act's regulation. The badly written law was passed in 2006 to regulate Internet gambling, but because it is fairly vague it would also impact other form of online gaming, including the virtual reality game Second Life, when it begins to be enforced.

Second Life is a multiplayer online game that allows players to live and work in a virtual world. It is the "work" part that raises issues. Second Life has its own money, and that money can be converted into real world money. Under the new law, that would make it a game of skill - like poker, I suppose.

The Unlawful Internet Gambling Enforcement Act evidently places most of the burden of enforcement on banks and other financial institutions. The result is likely to be that those banks will set up barriers to dealing with online gaming as a way of avoiding liability.

For now the issue seems to have been postponed. The House Committee on Financial Services today The Payments System Protection Act (H.R. 6870). If passed into law, that law would "direct the Department of the Treasury and Federal Reserve System, in consultation with the Attorney General, to appoint a special Administrative Law Judge to define the types of unlawful online gambling and conduct an economic impact study on the costs for compliance," according to USNewswire - effectively undermining the Unlawful Internet Gambling Enforcement Act.

In other word, Congress is no longer sure that every game that makes money on the Internet qualifies as gambling...

I Guess I'll Twitter

Well, I've heard a lot about it. I figured I'd sign up for Twitter and see what it was like.

First thoughts: it was puzzling. But I suppose most new platform is puzzling...

Twitter is a little like blogging, only you're limited 140 characters. That makes it more like working with instant messaging or texting on a cell phone - neither of which I do.

Connecting with people is easier than just about any social network that I've worked with. I found TwitterPacks on Google. That gave me a few people to follow. I think I'd been on twitter half an hour when the first people signed up to follow me on twitter. I have no clue how they found me...

So far, it's interesting and a little addictive. Probably more to come about Twitter...

Saturday, September 13, 2008

Taxes: McCain or Obama

Taxes: that seems to be among the most powerful issues in this presidential election. The two candidates have both attacked each other's position on taxes. McCain's ads tell American's that Obama will raise their taxes.

For a few Americans, McCain's telling the truth - President Obama would raise their taxes. But for most Americas, the McCain statement about how President Obama will raise their taxes... that statement is a LIE. Not an interpretation of Obama's tax plan that I just disagree with, but the kind of lie that makes kids at an elementary school yell pants on fire!.

Is McCain lying to you (or your working age child)? I know Congress has to approve changes in the tax law. I know there are cynics out there who don't think any politician ever plans to keep any promise. But let's just talk about the tax plans the candidates have put forward.

I came across a short article at the Washington Post that has a simple little chart to help you tell. And in case you're not good with charts, I'll help you a little...

If you make under $18,981 a year, President Obama would lower your income taxes by 5.5% - an average of about $567 per year for people in this category. John McCain, if he became president, would lower your taxes, too - but only by two-tenths of one percent, or an average of nineteen bucks for people in this category. ($18,981 per year is about $9 an hour, 40 hours per week, 52 weeks a year.) If you're in this category, not only is McCain lying to you, but you'd be better off personally under the Obama plan than under the McCain plan.

If you make between $18,981 and $37,595 a year, President Obama would lower your income taxes by 3.6% - an average of $892 per year for people in this category. John McCain, if he became president, would lower your taxes, too - but only by about half of one percent, or an average of $113 for people in this category. ($37,595 per year is about $18 an hour, 40 hours per week, 52 weeks a year.) If you're in this category, not only is McCain lying to you, but you'd be better off personally under the Obama plan than under the McCain plan.

If you make between $37,596 and $66,354 a year, President Obama would lower your income taxes by 2.4% - an average of about $1,042 per year for people in this category. John McCain, if he became president, would lower your taxes, too - but only by about seven-tenths of one percent, or an average of $319 per year. ($66,354 per year is a salary of about $5,529 a month, or a paycheck every two weeks of $2,552.) If you're in this category, not only is McCain lying to you, but you'd be better off personally under the Obama plan than under the McCain plan.

These first three categories include 60% of all tax payers

If you make between $66,355 and $111,645 a year, President Obama would lower your income taxes by 1.8% - an average of about $1,290 per year for people in this category. John McCain, if he became president, would lower your taxes, too - but only by about 1.4%, or an average of $1,009 per year. ($111,645 per year is a salary of about $9,304 a month, or a paycheck every two weeks of $4,294.) If you're in this category, not only is McCain lying to you, but you'd be better off personally under the Obama plan than under the McCain plan.

If you make between $111,646 and $160,972 a year, President Obama would lower your income taxes by 2.1% - an average of about $2,204 per year for people in this category. John McCain, if he became president, would lower your taxes more - by about 2.5%, or an average of $2,614 per year. ($160,972 per year is a salary of about $13,411 a month, or a paycheck every two weeks of $6,191.) If you're in this category, McCain is lying to you about whether President Obama would raise your taxes; personally, you'd do better (on income taxes, at least) under McCain, but not by much.

If you make between $160,973 and $226,981 a year, President Obama would lower your income taxes by 1.9% - an average of about $2,789 per year for people in this category. John McCain, if he became president, would lower your taxes more - by about 3%, or an average of $4,380 per year. ($226,981 per year is a salary of about $18,915 a month.) If you're in this category, McCain is lying to you about whether President Obama would raise your taxes; personally, you'd do better (on income taxes, at least) under McCain.

If you make between $226,982 and $603,402 a year, President Obama would lower your income taxes, but not by much - an average of about $12 per year for people in this category. John McCain, if he became president, would lower your taxes much more - by about 3.1%, or an average of $7,871 per year. ($603,402 per year is a salary of about $50,203 a month - which is more than I make as an elementary school teacher in a year.) If you're in this category, your taxes could possibly go up under President Obama, but not by much.

If you are in the top one percent of wage earners in America and make between $603,403 and $2.87 million a year, President Obama would raise your income taxes by about 8.7% - an average of about $115,974 per year for people in this category. John McCain, if he became president, would lower your taxes a bunch - by about 3.4%, or an average of $45,361 per year. ($2.87 million per year is a salary of about $239,166 a month.)

If you are in the top one-tenth of one percent of wage earners in America and make over $2.87 million a year, President Obama would raise your income taxes by about 11.5% - an average of about $701,885 per year for people in this category. John McCain, if he became president, would lower your taxes considerably - by about 4.4%, or an average of $269,364 per year.


Is McCain lying to you? The simple answer is yes. McCain wants you to believe that as president, Barack Obama would raise everyone's taxes. The truth is that he would attempt to lower taxes for 98% or more of the population. When McCain's ads tell you that Obama wants to raise your taxes, it's not just a lie, it's a damn lie. That makes McCain a damn liar.

If you're bringing home more than $240,000 a month McCain's your guy. Otherwise, he just wants you to help out his guys by voting for tax cuts for the obscenely rich...

Read my article on what the Wall Street Journal thinks of McCain's and Obama's tax plans.

Wednesday, September 10, 2008

While Rome Burned...

This is what they want to talk about. Them - the news media. Left or right, it doesn't matter. They want to talk about lipstick and pigs, about sex ed law in Illinois...

I enjoy telling people that I worked as a reporter for a while before I found honest work. I say it at school board and county government meetings. People laugh, I smile.

GOP presidential candidate John McCain has used the "lipstick on a pig" phase before. So has Vice-President Dick Cheney. In the past day or so, Senator Obama used the phrase. He was pretty explicit about the fact that he was talking about John McCain's economic plan. But the McCain camp came out almost immediately with the accusation that Obama was referring to Governor Palin. And they called the remark sexist...

And now the stuffed shirts at FOX and the liberal hacks at the NY Times and the left-leaning suits at CBS & NBC all want to talk about lipstick on a pig and McCain's outrage - instead of the economy.

What could we talk about...?

The Huffington Post came up with a short list:
  • We could talk about the shrinking role of the US in world affairs.
  • We could talk about whether the Wall Street bank Lehman Brother is going to collapse.
  • We could talk about having to bail out Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac.
  • We could talk about Iraq.
  • We could talk about tomorrow's anniversary of 9/11.
  • We could talk about rising unemployment.
  • We could talk about the US relationship with Russia.
  • We could talk about the OPEC meeting today where they cut production to help keep prices from going down.
There are probably a few other things. And instead we're going to talk about lipstick on a pig for a day or two.

I used to think that John McCain was an honorable man. Now I think his strategy is to tell more and more outrageous lies to keep from losing an election...

Friday, September 5, 2008

My Answer for Joe Porter of Champaign Illinois (The Change Obama Wants)

Dear Joe,

I read with interest your letter about the upcoming presidential election. (I reprinted it below; and I hope you don’t mind that I brushed up your grammar and punctuation a little.) Like you, I am in my mid-40’s – a born-again Christian, a husband, father, and homeowner. I am not a veteran; I wanted to join the military, but a medical problem kept me out. But I know the military well, since my father is a retired Army officer. And while I don’t actually own a small business, I do contract work in addition to my day job.

I don’t consider myself to be a liberal or a conservative, although for the last few years I have been involved in my county’s local Democratic Party. Party membership involves signing a pledge about how I’ll vote: I don’t have to vote for the Democrat, but I promised not to vote against the Democrat. The Republicans here do the same thing. I signed that pledge knowing that I could always simply quit the party if I needed to vote for the Republican; so far my conscious hasn’t made me do that – so, like you, I’ve been able to simply vote my conscience. I feel like we have a lot in common…

I understand why you don’t believe in two Americas. According to the Census Bureau, the 185,000 people who live in Champaign have a median household income of almost $40,000 a year. I live in Tazewell County, Va. (median household income about $30,500 a year) and I work in neighboring McDowell County, WV (median household income only about $19,500 a year). Where you live, 91% of country residents graduated high school and 38% graduate college. In the county where I work as an elementary school teacher (I work with children with disabilities), only about half the people graduated from high school and just 5% finished college.

Eleven percent of the population where you live in Champaign has some sort of disability, according to the Census Bureau. With coal mining being a leading occupation here, and with the environmental and nutritional issues that come with life in a poor, rural mining community, over 40% of the people in the county where I work have some kind of medical condition that results in disability, according to the Census Bureau. Champaign has such a high income and education level compared to here and such a healthy population, it’s easy to see why you don’t understand the idea that there are two Americas. You’ve lived a sheltered life. When it’s 20 miles to the nearest Wal-mart or McDonalds and your family is too poor to have its own car, it’s harder to believe that you can be whatever you want to be. It’s nice to know that you believe the government should help the legitimately downtrodden.

Like you, I’m concerned about the future of our great nation. Like you, most folks I know choose not to be involved in politics – unless you count attending school board meetings when the county decides to close their school, or going to public hearings about a project to get county water piped in to a new area.

You said that we were in the unique position in this country of electing out leaders. I’m not sure what you mean by that. If we could talk, I could give you a long list of other real democracies on earth where people elect their leaders. Great Britain, Australia, Canada and New Zealand come to mind right away. But I think there are at least a one or two dozen more. America is a great country. I got to live a few other places while my father was in the Army. And I spent some time overseas working for a Christian missions organization. So I’ve seen other places and I understand just HOW GREAT America is. But it’s not unique in being a democracy.

Like you, I don’t agree completely with any political candidate (or even with my wife) all the time. Like you, I look at the big picture and think about credentials and about character.

You began to lose me when you started to talk about change. There are two candidates in this election: John McCain and Barack Obama. Both of them say they want Change. I listened to both of their speeches on television when they accepted their party’s nominations, Barack Obama talked about change, and I thought he was pretty clear about what he meant by that. John McCain talked about change, too; but it wasn’t all that clear to me what HE meant by it. (I was especially disappointed that John McCain couldn’t even bring himself to mention the name of our Republican president, George W. Bush, who has brought our country to the point where both candidates today seem to think we need some change.)

You said (and I’m quoting you here) “Quite frankly, I don't believe that vague proclamations of change hold any promise for me.” I agree. And I guess that’s my biggest concern – that John McCain hasn’t told us yet what changes he wants to make. He talks in the broadest possible generalizations about putting America first, about energy, about being a prisoner of war, and about how mean the media is to him. In contrast to that, Barack Obama has put forth some pretty specific policy ideas that I guess you’ve missed.

Before we go much further, I wanted to thank you for your willingness in your letter to overlook Senator Obama’s genealogy, upbringing, and religious background. Even though his mother is white, I know there are lots of people who can’t get past the fact that he looks Black; I’m glad you're not one of them. He’s denied being a Muslim (would that be so horrible?) and I have pictures of him eating a hotdog and drinking a beer (real Muslims don’t do either of those things); but I know there are a few ignorant people out there who still think he’s a Muslim because his father was. My father was a Mason, but I don’t even really know what that means. I’m glad you’re willing to set that aside and not remind us of it. Between having a Black father from another country, growing up with a single Mom, and being exposed as a child to Islam, the bigots out there will have a field day with America’s more stupid voters. I appreciate you not bringing any of that up.

Let me tell you about the change that, as I understand it, Senator Obama wants.

1. He wants people to have health insurance that they can afford (even if they are only 23 and haven’t graduated college yet – like my oldest daughter) and can take with them if they change jobs. These days many people don’t have that.

2. Senator Obama wants to cut taxes for people who make less than $250,000 a year. Under the Republicans we have moved back to having a huge difference between what the richest Americans make and what the average American makes. President Bush cut taxes for the richest Americas in the hopes that those people would be nice to you and me and create jobs for us. After eight years I think it’s safe to say that THAT hasn’t worked. Senator Obama wants the rich to pay more of their fair share in taxes. John McCain thinks that idea sounds reckless and that it will be bad for America, but the Wall Street Journal disagreed in an editorial on August 14. The WSJ said “The Obama plan would dramatically simplify taxes by consolidating existing credits, eliminating the need for millions of senior citizens to file tax forms, and enabling as many as 40 million middle-class filers to do their own taxes in less than five minutes and not have to hire an accountant.” What did they think of McCain’s plan? This is what they said: “The McCain plan would lead to deficits the like of which we have never seen in this country. It would take money from the middle class and from future generations so that the wealthy can live better today.” Remember, this is the Wall Street Journal, not some group of liberal hacks at the NY Times.

3. Senator Obama wants to get us out of the expensive political mess in Iraq. American soldiers are dying and it’s not clear why anymore. The Iraqis don’t seem to want to solve their own problems. They have a budget surplus while we’re paying their security bills. But John McCain doesn’t seem to want to change the way we deal with Iraq.

4. Barack Obama wants to make a bigger commitment to education – especially when it comes to our youngest children – and to fix the problems of No Child Left Behind. John McCain doesn’t.

5. Barack Obama wants to work to stop global warming. John McCain picked a vice-presidential candidate who doesn’t believe in global warming.

Of course, there are other issues. But those are some of the major ones. They are areas were we need change, areas where Obama has detailed policy statements about how we should bring about change and where McCain doesn’t.

But the real issue for you seems to be more simple. You seem to think that John McCain is more qualified to be president because he is, well, older (for starters) and he’s had a harder life. I know McCain is a war hero and I respect that. But I don’t think being beaten by people who speak a different language than yours somehow gives you the qualifications to be president. We’ve had lots of presidents who were Commander-in-Chief even though they’d never been in the military before being elected. That’s what makes us different from places like Thailand and Venezuela, where the military gets involved in government on a pretty regular basis.

I don’t think anyone (including McCain) is ever really qualified to be president. The job is too important and our country too great. It’s not like there’s a course you can take – Presidential Readiness 101. Barack Obama has been serving people through his involvement in politics for a couple of decades now. John McCain has been at it a little longer because, well, he’s older. Both want change. I’ve heard them both say it. McCain hasn’t really told us what that change would look like and how our country would be different from the mess that eight years of government by his political party has left us with. Obama has told us what that difference would be like.

While I’ve sent this out as an email in the hopes that it will reach you, you can also find it on my web page at If you still really don’t understand the change that Barack Obama wants, go to my web page and leave me your phone number. I’ll call you (if you really exist) and try to explain it more clearly.

Your friend,

Greg Cruey

PS Thanks again for not bringing up the stuff about race and religion and just looking honestly at the issues involved. I really appreciated that.

Joe Porter's Letter:

Dear Friends:

My name is Joe Porter. I live in Champaign, Illinois. I'm 46 years old, a born-again Christian, a husband, a father, a small business owner, a veteran, and a homeowner. I don't consider myself to be either conservative or liberal, and I vote for the person, not Republican or Democrat.

I don't believe there are "two” Americas but that every person in this country can be whomever and whatever they want to be if they'll just work to get there - and nowhere else on earth can they find such opportunities. I believe our government should help those who are legitimately downtrodden, and should always put the interests of America first.

The purpose of this message is that I'm concerned about the future of this great nation. I'm worried that the silent majority of honest, hard-working, tax-paying people in this country have been passive for too long. Most folks I know choose not to involve themselves in politics. They go about their daily lives, paying their bills, raising their kids, and doing what they can to maintain the good life. They
vote and consider doing so to be a sacred trust. They shake their heads at the political pundits and so-called "news", thinking that what they hear is always spun by whoever is reporting it. They can't understand how elected officials can regularly violate the public trust with pork barrel spending. They don't want government handouts. They want the government to protect them, not raise their taxes for more government programs.

We are in the unique position in this country of electing our leaders. It's a privilege to do so. I've never found a candidate in any election with whom I agreed on everything. I'll wager that most of us don't even agree with our families or spouses 100% of the time. So when I step into that voting booth, I always try to look at the big picture and cast my vote for the man or woman who is best qualified for the job. I've hired a lot of people in my lifetime, and essentially that's what an election is - a hiring process. Who has the credentials? Whom do I want working for me? Whom can I trust to do the job right?

I'm concerned that a growing number of voters in this country simply don't get it. They are caught up in a fervor they can't explain, and are calling it "change".

”Change what?,” I ask.

”Well, we're going to change America,” they say.

”In what way?,” I query.

”We want someone new and fresh in the White House,” they exclaim.

”So, someone who's not a politician?,” I press.

”Uh, well, no, we just want a lot of stuff changed, so we're voting for Obama,” they state.

”So the current system, the system of freedom and democracy that has enabled a man to grow up in this great country, get a fine education, raise incredible amounts of money and dominate the news and win his party's nomination for the White House – that system's all wrong?”

”No, no, that 20 part of the system's okay - we just need a lot of change.”

And so it goes. "Change we can believe in." Quite frankly, I don't believe that vague proclamations of change hold any promise for me. In recent months, I've been asking virtually everyone I encounter how they're voting. I live in Illinois, so
most folks tell me they're voting for Barack Obama. But no one can really tell me why - only that he's going to change a lot of stuff. Change, change, change. I have yet to find one single person who can tell me distinctly and convincingly why this man is qualified to be President and Commander-in-Chief of the most powerful nation on earth other than the fact that he claims he's going to implement a lot of change.

We've all seen the emails about Obama's genealogy, his upbringing, his Muslim background, and his church affiliations. Let's ignore this for a moment. Put it all aside. Then ask yourself, what qualifies this man to be my president? That he's a
brilliant orator and talks about change? CHANGE WHAT?

Friends, I'll be forthright with you - I believe the American voters who are supporting Barack Obama don't have a clue what they're doing, as evidenced by the fact that not one of them - NOT ONE of them I've spoken to can spell out his
qualifications. Not even the most liberal media can explain why he should be elected. Political experience? Negligible. Foreign relations? Non-existent. Achievements? Name one. Someone who wants to unite the country? If you haven't read his wife's thesis from Princeton, look it up on the web. This is who's lining up to be our next First Lady?

The only thing I can glean from Obama's constant harping about change is that we're in for a lot of new taxes. For me, the choice is clear. I've looked carefully
at the two leading applicants for the job, and I've made my choice.

Here's a question - where were you five and a half years ago? Around Christmas, 2002. You've had five or six birthdays in that time. My son has grown from a sixth grade child to a high school graduate. Five and a half years is a good chunk of time. About 2,000 days. 2,000 nights of sleep. 6, 000 meals, give or take. John McCain spent that amount of time, from 1967 to 1973,in a North Vietnamese prisoner-of-war camp. When offered early release, he refused it. He considered this offer to be a public relations stunt by his captors, and insisted that those held longer than he should be released first. Did you get that part? He was offered his freedom, and he turned it down. A regimen of beatings and torture began.
Do you possess such strength of character? Locked in a filthy cell in a foreign country, would you turn down your own freedom in favor of your fellow man? I submit that's a quality of character that is rarely found, and for me, this singular act defines John McCain.

Unlike several presidential candidates in recent years whose military service is questionable or non-existent, you will not find anyone to denigrate the integrity and moral courage of this man. A graduate of Annapolis , during his Naval service he received the Silver Star, Bronze Star, Purple Heart and Distinguished
Flying Cross. His own son is now serving in the Marine Corps in Iraq. Barack Obama is fond of saying "We honor John McCain's service...BUT...", which to me is condescending and offensive - because what I hear is, "Let's forget this man's sacrifice for his country and his proven leadership abilities, and talk some more about change."

I don't agree with John McCain on everything - but I am utterly convinced that he is qualified to be our next President, and I trust him to do what's right. I know in my heart that he has the best interests of our country in mind. He doesn't simply
want to be President - he wants to lead America , and there's a huge difference.

Factually, there is simply no comparison between the two candidates. A man of questionable background and motives who prattles on about change can't hold a candle to a man who has devoted his life in public service to this nation, retiring from the Navy in 1981 and elected to the Senate in 1982.

Perhaps Obama's supporters are taking a stance between old and new. Maybe they don't care about McCain's service or his strength of character, or his unblemished qualifications to be President. Maybe "likeability" is a higher priority for them than trust". Being a prisoner of war is not what qualifies John McCain to be President of the United States of America - but his demonstrated
leadership certainly DOES.

Dear friends, it is time for us to stand . It is time for thinking Americans to say, "Enough." It is time for people of all parties to stop following the party line. It is time for anyone who wants to keep America first, who wants the right man leading their nation, to start a dialogue with all their friends and neighbors and ask who they're voting for, and why. There's a lot of evil in this world. That should be readily apparent to all of us by now. And when faced with that evil as we are now, I want a man who knows the cost of war on his troops and on his citizens. I want a man who puts my family's interests before any foreign country.

I want a President who's qualified to lead.

Fact Checking the GOP Convention on Palin

I know it's mean (and probably somehow sexist, since she's a woman) of me to talk trash about John McCain's vice-presidential pick, but I cam across ann Associated Press article that ran a few fact checks on Palin - things said by her, things said about her. I thought I'd pass them on.

The truth about Palin...
  1. PALIN: "I have protected the taxpayers by vetoing wasteful spending ... and championed reform to end the abuses of earmark spending by Congress. I told the Congress 'thanks but no thanks' for that Bridge to Nowhere."

    THE FACTS: As mayor of Wasilla (pop. 9780), not only did Palin hired
    Palin hire a lobbyist, she traveled to Washington herself each year in support of legislative (pork barrel?) earmarks for the town. She got $27 million Wasilla - about $2,761 in federal money per town resident. In Sarah Palin's two years as governor, Alaska has requested nearly $750 million in special (pork barrel?) federal spending - about $1120 per Alaska resident and by far the largest per-capita request in the nation. NOTE: While Palin points out she rejected plans to build a $398 million bridge from Ketchikan to an island with 50 residents and an airport, that opposition came only after the plan was ridiculed nationally as a "bridge to nowhere." She was for it before she was against it (is that flip-flopping?)

  2. PALIN: "The Democratic nominee for president supports plans to raise income taxes, raise payroll taxes, raise investment income taxes, raise the death tax, raise business taxes, and increase the tax burden on the American people by hundreds of billions of dollars."

    THE FACTS: The Tax Policy Center, a think tank run jointly by the Brookings Institution and the Urban Institute, concluded that Obama's plan would increase after-tax income for middle-income taxpayers by about 5 percent by 2012, or nearly $2,200 annually. McCain's plan, which cuts taxes across all income levels, would raise after tax-income for middle-income taxpayers by 3 percent, the center concluded.

    Obama, according tot he Associated Press article, would provide $80 billion in tax breaks, mainly for poor workers and the elderly, including tripling the Earned Income Tax Credit for minimum-wage workers and higher credits for larger families.

    He also would raise income taxes, capital gains and dividend taxes on the wealthiest. He would raise payroll taxes on taxpayers with incomes above $250,000, and he would raise corporate taxes. Small businesses that make more than $250,000 a year would see taxes rise.

  3. MCCAIN: "She's been governor of our largest state, in charge of 20 percent of America's energy supply ... She's responsible for 20 percent of the nation's energy supply. I'm entertained by the comparison and I hope we can keep making that comparison that running a political campaign is somehow comparable to being the executive of the largest state in America," he said in an interview with ABC News' Charles Gibson.

    THE FACTS: Well, while Alaska is the biggest state measured in acres of land, it is the smaller than almost every other state when you measure size by population. Only Wyoming, Vermont, and North Dakota have fewer people than Alaska. Forth Worth, Tx., Memphis, Tn., and Charlotte, NC all have bigger populations than Alaska. And while Alaska might have a lot of oil underneath it, as governor, Sarah Palin's only real authority over that oil was her ability to tax it. She did this, crossing party lines and working with Democrats in Alaska to tax the oil companies there (much to the annoyance of Alaska's GOP).

  4. MCCAIN: "She's the commander of the Alaska National Guard. ... She has been in charge, and she has had national security as one of her primary responsibilities," he said on ABC.

    THE FACTS: That's almost laughable. While governors are in charge of their state guard units, that authority ends whenever those units are called to actual military service. Like any governor, Sarah Palin is in charge of the Alaska National Guard as long as it's not actually doing anything military. When guard units are deployed to Iraq or Afghanistan, they assume those duties under "federal status," which means they report to the Defense Department, not their governors. Alaska has one of the smallest of state guards in America.

  5. FORMER ARKANSAS GOV. MIKE HUCKABEE: Huk said that Palin "got more votes running for mayor of Wasilla, Alaska than Joe Biden got running for president of the United States."

    THE FACTS: That's the biggest lie of the GOP convention (and from a preacher!). Palin got 616 votes in the 1996 mayor's election, and got 909 in her 1999 re-election race. Biden dropped out of the race after the Iowa caucuses, but he still got 76,165 votes in 23 states and the District of Columbia where he was on the ballot during the 2008 presidential primaries.

  6. FORMER MASSACHUSETTS GOV. MITT ROMNEY: "We need change, all right — change from a liberal Washington to a conservative Washington! We have a prescription for every American who wants change in Washington — throw out the big-government liberals, and elect John McCain and Sarah Palin."

    THE FACTS: Romney seems confused. George W. Bush, a conservative Republican, has been president for nearly eight years. And until last year, Republicans controlled Congress. Only since January 2007 have Democrats been in charge of the House and Senate - and that, by a slim margin.

Oh, and by the way... Palin never actually sold that jet on eBay. It got taken off eBay and eventually sold by other means, for a loss...

Wednesday, September 3, 2008

Not Far from the RNC: Ron Paul Lives

I once called Ron Paul the scariest candidate for president this go 'round.

As the Republican National Convention takes place in Minnesota’s Twin Cities, former GOP candidate Ron Paul is also having his day in the sun - not far away.

The Texas Congressman has drawn between ten thousand and twenty thousand supporters to St. Paul for his own convention, in competition with the RNC show in town. I can’t embed either of these videos here, but there are two interesting clips of Paul this week available - one from The Caucus and one from TIME.


Tuesday, September 2, 2008

Sarah Palin: I Should Write About Other Stuff...

Life has gotten busy with the start of the school year. I have students again. And on top of that, I am a graduate student again. There's so much more I should be writing about. Rather than actually write about here, I'll confine myself to this list of links on Sarah Palin:

There's so much more. I'll leave you with this...

James Carville, Michelle Bachmann and Stephanie Miller on Larry King Live, talking about Palin's qualifications:

Sunday, August 31, 2008

Visiting the Archives at The Reading Teacher Listserv: Hugo's Still There...

I stopped participating in the reading teacher’s listserv some time back, but I still browse it from time to time to see what interesting topics have come up. I saw a couple of threads earlier this month and, well, the listserv is still sometimes not that nice a place…

Both threads (subject lines: “really illiterate adults” and “under-estimating failing learners”) started with a posts from Val Yule, though the larger discussion seems to tie back to a post that (predictably) mentions dyslexia in an adult. In the first thread she said that she had met people “whose problems are too great to be able to learn.” Val’s post, taken in context, is innocent and well meaning. She’s talking about the use of distance education tools to help illiterate adult.

But Val commits an egregious error of philosophy and assumptions. Any standard school vision statement in America is likely to include an acknowledgement that all people can learn. It’s an underlying assumption of public education and a cornerstone of disabilities rights. I don’t know that she meant it, but she said it pretty clearly: some people can’t learn.

meTwenty-nine hours later there was only one reply to Val’s post and no one had mentioned the gaffe on her part.

Enter Marshall Eubanks. Marshall’s only previous post was when I decided to leave the list (June 2, 2008). And it was not complimentary toward the list. Here he expressed a simple idea, I thought: he asked how the list could tolerate someone suggesting that there were people who can’t learn. “This talk is tolerated here .... I am simply amazed…. How can anyone make the statement …and be taken seriously as an educator? Shame on you and shame on anyone that tolerates this statement.

It took nine minutes for Hugo Kerr to post a response: “This needs a more adult explanation.” Hugo ignores Marshall’s complaint completely, is sarcastic out of one side of his mouth (suggesting that Marshall might not be capable of making a more developed argument on the issue), and demands respect from Marshall out of the other side of his mouth.

A few hours later Beth Forrester posts in the same vein as Hugo. She’d Googled Marshall and wonders if he is this or that particular Marshall – posting his employment information to the list. “We know who you are.” That tactic was used on me, too. I can’t remember who it was that offered to get hold of officials in my school district and have my blog posts about the list taken down for me.

In the second thread Val talks about the limits that, in her view, some learners have: “However, there are different ceilings for what different people can achieve, just as there are in athletic skills, so it is important to help people to learn what they can without stressing them to go too far too fast.

And Marshall replies… “My, my, my .... genetically deficient people/populations that should simply be ‘trained’ to survive. Hitler made this determination in Germany and murdered millions. Shame on you Valerie .... shame!

In an email that is a thread unto itself, Val speaks directly to Marshall. She is civil and professional, and explains how some of her own personal handicaps have brought her to her views. As I see it, Marshall’s concern about her statements are reasonable (and expressed in a manner that is clear enough not to need further expansion). At the same time, Val’s remarks are open to some level of interpretation and don’t necessarily make her the Nazi sympathizer that Marshall first thought.

Val made a statement. Marshall expressed his shock at its implications. Val clarified it in a very professional manner.

And there was Hugo. Hugo said that Marshall’s comments were “at the very least not helpful!” Hugo is wounded, he says, over Marshall taking the list to task. And what does Hugo want? He wants Marshall to “make proper argument?” Well, of course that’s what Hugo wants…

About a day after Marshall’s original post in the thread I first mentioned, Hugo replied to Beth (the “We Know Who You Are” Post) and suggested that they should “give up” on Marshall coming back for the fight. “Having spewed his bile all about he has now gone to ground. We should wash the bile off as best we can and hope the smell fades over time.” Hugo's prose sounds almost Biblical - Ezekiel or one of the minor prophets, perhaps. But the truth is that Marshall's points were concise and important. And while Val addressed them professionally, Hugo sought to make it personal on behalf of the list without ever conceding that the ideas involved (all people can learn, we don't believe in eugenics anymore) had some significance. And Hugo thinks Marshall is childish...

LOL. And they called the moderator on me! I wonder where Julie Coiro is. I would have hoped that these sorts of threats and belittling would have been addressed privately back in June. Oh well.

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